Wilmington StarNews: For Sunshine Week, a how-to guide on tapping into public records

From the Wilmington StarNews (3/14/12): One of the linchpins of democracy is the public's right to access government records.

Whether it be assessor rolls, arrest reports, court records, governmental email exchanges or financial reports, the public can request records from its government.

Under North Carolina public records laws, governed by N.C. General Statute 132, and Open Meetings Law, governed by General Statute 143, you have a right to inspect a large number of records. They are, after all, the “property of the people,” according to state law.

Here’s a primer on how to exercise that right, based on North Carolina open meeting and public records laws and information from The Sunshine Center at Elon University.

Requesting information

The law affords the public the right to inspect and copy records of every public office, public officer, institution, board, commission, bureau, council, department, authority or unit of the state government or a subdivision of government.

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